The Dallas Cowboys will be making their first and only appearance of the season on Monday Night Football when they host the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Sounds simple, but it’s much bigger than that.
“It’s America’s Team. The Cowboys deliver,” said Jay Rothman, the lead producer of ESPN’s Monday Night Football and the popular Gruden’s QB Camp series. “We’re excited to get our Monday night appearance with them and be in Dallas. It’s always a big event when you do a game in Dallas. We love it. We can’t wait to get down there and showcase the Cowboys.”
The Cowboys bring a lot of things to the table:
“It’s always a big deal for us. Unlike some of the other networks who get spoiled with multiple Cowboys experiences, we get the Cowboys once a year,” Rothman said. “To have them on Monday night after Christmas in such a meaningful game, the way they’re performing, to showcase the stadium, doing games in Dallas is just different.
“When you walk the field before the game, it’s a star-studded stadium. It’s a star-studded field. It’s a big deal for us. We don’t take it for granted and we’re very, very excited to be down there.”
There’s a chance the Cowboys might have the NFC East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs secured before Monday, If the New York Giants lose at Philadelphia Thursday night, the Cowboys’ position in the playoffs is set.
But the Lions will still be playing for playoff position.
Rothman said the Cowboys’ playoff status, whatever it might be on Monday, won’t take away from the game or ESPN’s enthusiasm to broadcast the game.
“Obviously, things change if the Giants were to lose. We have to react to that,” Rothman said. “From everything I’ve read, Jerry has indicated that everybody is going to play.
“We want to deliver fans a great game. The Lions are playing for something.”
Perhaps the biggest attraction is the star power on the field. The Cowboys had five players voted to the Pro Bowl. They were rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, and veteran offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin.
Prescott and Elliott have created the most buzz.
“I got to see Dak upclose and personal after Jon studied him for a couple of weeks before he came to Tampa and doing our QB camp show,” said Rothman, who launched MNF on ESPN in 2006. “We love him. He’s such a great young man, just a terrific kid. It’s no surprise to us to see him having the success that he’s having.”
Elliott leads the league in rushing and created a social media storm when he celebrated a touchdown by jumping in a Salvation Army red kettle against Tampa Bay last week.
“Every time he carries the ball, you think he’s going to go an extra 10 yards or go into the end zone. He’s awesome to watch. The Cowboys offense is awesome to watch. I was studying them like coach Gruden at 3 this morning, looking at that offensive line,” Rothman said. “It’s going to be fun. I don’t know if he (Elliott) is going to jump in the Salvation Army bucket this week, but we’ll be ready.”